Most common of Africa’s three species of hyena the spotted is also a ruthless hunter
in its own right and not just a scavenger of other animals kills. Groups of hyena
will hunt at night bringing down prey as large as Buffalo should the right
opportunity present itself. Can be a solitary hunter but is usually seen in groups
around carcases. Males and females are hard to distinguish in the field as both carry
male looking genitalia. Females dominate the group the lowest female being higher
than the highest male. Recorded as having the strongest jaws of any African mammal
digestive juices to suit their high bone and hence calcium diets. Hyena droppings
are usually very white in colour.
Brown hyena, Striped hyena and possibly the Ardwolf which is very hyena like in shape
but eats nothing more than termites.
The Brown hyena is usually a rare and solitary creature and you can consider yourself
lucky if you encounter one. Scientist have recently found that they can however be
quite sociable when numbers permit although this is not seen with any frequency as
they are mainly nocturnal. Much higher at the shoulder than the rump an adaptation
for carrying heavy pieces of prey animals off. The neck and jaw muscles are extremely
powerful. They tend to be more nocturnal than the spotted hyena and frequent drier
places such as the semi desert areas of Namibia. They obtain most of their moisture
from prey although will drink readily if water is available.
Superficially could be confused with any of the hyenas or aardwolf but if you think
of it as mostly dark brown with a light brown to fawn upper neck you should be able
to correctly identify this one.